Q May a county grant back pay in the event of an error in ascertaining the “total assessed value” of the county resulting in the supervisors, tax assessor, tax collector, prosecuting attorney and justice court judges receiving a salary less than the amount allowed by law?
A Any additional compensation granted to the supervisors, prosecuting attorney, and justice court judges may only be prospective. The tax assessor and the tax collector are entitled to back pay for 3 years. Section 96 of the Mississippi Constitution strictly forbids payment of retroactive salary increases unless such payment is clearly shown to be back pay previously due but unpaid because of administrative error. An administrative error, for example, occurs when the increased compensation is mandatory but overlooked. Section 25-3-13(3) requires any increase in compensation for the board of supervisors to be spread on the minutes. Therefore, any increase to the board is permissive rather than mandatory. Section 25-3-36(2) provides that the salary of a justice court judge is tied to the salary of the supervisors. Section 25-3-9(4) links the salary of a county prosecuting attorney to the salary of the justice court judge. Based on Section 25-3-3, the increased compensation for tax collectors and/or assessors is mandatory. The Mississippi Supreme Court has held that a three (3) year statute of limitations exists for claims of additional compensation, based on Section 15-1-49. Consequently, the tax collector and assessor may be granted the additional compensation owed them from three years ago to present day. (Attorney General’s Opinion to Barbour, November 18, 2016)